How to recognise nail fungus?

A fungal infection may affect part of the nail, an entire nail, or several nails. Usually a fungal nail infection isn’t painful. But without treatment, over time, it can become increasingly uncomfortable or painful to wear shoes, walk or even stand for long periods.

Symptoms of Nail Fungus

  • White spots or streaks on the nail surface
  • Yellow discoloured nails
  • Black coloured nails
  • Painful toenails
  • Thickening of toenails
  • Cracked and brittle nails

Nail fungus can look unsightly and may cause embarrassment. Typically, the nail becomes thicker and changes to a yellowish-brown. The infection can spread to the surrounding nails and even the skin. It can also be contagious, spreading from one nail to another, and from one person to the other. Therefore, it is important to treat nail fungus as soon as symptoms arise and the infection has been diagnosed.

White spots or streaks on the nail surface
White spots can be a symptom of calcium deficiency in the body. However, it is more likely to be the sign of a fungal infection of the nail surface.

In cases of nail fungus, the nail may become increasingly damaged and crumbly, eventually turning brown or grey. Not only does it affect the appearance of the nail, gradually the fungus may spread throughout the nail. Unless treated, it can become painful.

Yellow discoloured nails
Discolouration of the nail is one of the first signs of nail fungus. Yellow nails are most commonly caused by fungal nail infections. Frequent application of nail polish may also result in yellow nails caused by staining. It is recommended to let the nails breathe often and to avoid wearing nail polish for long periods of time. Wearing nail polish for too long may cause nail fungus.

The pigments used in nail polish, particularly darker shades, can stain your nails over time. The best way to prevent this is to use a  breathable nail polish special for nails with nail fungus or to use a clear-base coat before applying a nail polish. Other causes of nail discoloration can be chronic liver disease, excessive smoking and poor lifestyle habits.

Black nails
There are many causes of black or dark toenails but the most common is trauma. This discolouration, is called a ‘subungual hematoma’ referring to the blood that collects beneath the nail. This not only causes the nail to become discoloured, it also creates a tremendous amount of pressure, leading to intense pain.

In many cases, medical treatment is advised to relieve this discomfort. Although everyone is susceptible to black toenails through accidental trauma, athletes and those who often walk barefoot are at higher risk. Black toenails are also common in immuno-compromised patients.

Painful toenails
Nail fungus may be painful, especially when treatment is started too late. Common causes of painful nail infection include: a swollen nail fold, thickening of the nail or complete separation from the nail plate. It can be uncomfortable and even painful to wear shoes, walk or stand for long periods of time. Treating nail fungus will help to reduce the pain. Painful ingrown toenails are commonly caused by incorrect trimming, ill-fitting shoes or heredity.

Thickening of the nails
Our toenails thicken and harden naturally as we grow older. When toenail thickening occurs in younger people, it is most likely due to infection or injury.
An infected nail becomes thicker and harder to penetrate, thus making it more difficult to treat. Filing the nail may cause even more damage, so the best approach is to treat the infection as early as possible.

While major trauma to the nail is an obvious cause of thickening, it is more often due to everyday activities creating repetitive pressure on the nail. This continual striking of the nail against the shoe causes it to separate from the nail bed. Thickened toenails can be painful, difficult to cut and increase susceptibility to infection.

Cracked and brittle nails
Brittle nails can be caused by long-term exposure to water or chemicals such as detergents and nail polish. They are also a sign of ageing. For this reason, adults and older people suffer more from nail fungus which enters the nails through cracks. Many medical conditions can affect the brittleness of nails, meaning that they easily crack, chip, split, or peel. Thin and brittle nails, referred to as onychoschizia, can also be a sign of hypothyroidism. Taking biotin vitamin supplements can help with some cases of brittle nail and applying moisturisers after soaking them in water can also be beneficial.
Nailner is used to prevent fungi entering the nails because it creates an environment that it is unsuitable for fungi to survive. Nailner also contains moisturisers that help cracked brittle nails to recover.